London sparks debate over £83bn North Sea oil and gas clean-up

25 Jul 2017

Over the next decade it is estimated that 100 fixed structures, 7,500km of subsea pipeline and approximately 1,800 wells will be retired as part of a decommissioning programme in the North Sea. Oil and Gas UK suggest that the cost of this infrastructure clean-up could hit £83 billion.

The offshore UK continental shelf has been producing oil and gas for over 50 years and although there could still be up to 20 billion barrels yet to be produced, many facilities have come to the end of their useful life.

The oil and gas sector supports around 300,000 jobs in the UK and meets half of the primary energy needs. While the decommissioning programme places huge obligation on operators, it also presents massive opportunity for those companies best positioned to provide the expertise, people, equipment and finance to complete the task.

In a statement released in The Times, Gunther Newcome, Operations Director at the UK Oil and Gas Authority, said, ‘The OGA will continue to work closely with operators and the supply chain to ensure that key information and lessons are shared and new approaches to contracting are developed. There is a clear and sizeable opportunity for the supply chain to develop an efficient, low-cost and exportable industry capability.’

Gunther Newcome, along with Alistair Hope (Project Director of the Brent Decommissioning) and Robert Fell (CEO of the British Metals Recycling Association), will be speaking at a prestigious seminar on the UKCS decommissioning at the IOM3 London office on 12 October. Other industry experts from Wood Mackenzie, Herbert Smith Freehills, Abel UK, and Genesis Oil and Gas will also be attending the one-day event.

The London debate is centred on the opportunities and obligations associated with the North Sea clean-up. Speakers will be discussing decontamination, recycling and disposal of the materials used. 

Senior Managers, Technical Professionals, Investors and anyone who has a shared interest in how these issues will affect the industry, companies, markets and the UK taxpayer are invited to attend the event.

Offshore oil and gas platform
Image: Offshore oil and gas platform 

Further information

To register for Decommissioning in the UKCS: Opportunities and Obligations, please visit

The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) is a major UK engineering institution whose Oil & Gas Division represents the whole extractive cycle, from exploration and production, through well abandonment, platform and subsea facilities removal, pipeline decontamination, materials recycling and re-use. It exists to promote and develop all aspects of materials science and engineering, geology, drilling and petroleum engineering as a leading authority in the worldwide materials and mining community.